Yesterday I took a morning bike ride out to picturesque Walden Pond. As I was pedaling home, I came across this little guy right in my path:
Who would have thought you would come across a turtle in Greater Boston area? Now I’m not a “signs” person, in that I dictate my life by external signs and circumstances, but whenever I think of a turtle, I think of slowing down. And slowing down has definitely been the theme of my life for the past month.
It started at the World Race training camp. I had the mentality that I just was going down there to get the training camp done, to check the box so I could get on the mission field. But God had different plans. The first night during worship, He showed me a picture of me riding a horse. I was kicking my legs trying to get it to go faster and faster. I was so focused on where we were going that I wasn’t enjoying the ride and taking time to enjoy the scenery. That night the speaker talked about how the “Next” is the death of the Holy Spirit. I realized that a lot of times my mind is three steps ahead of where I am – I’m always thinking about the ‘next’ thing. But the Holy Spirit doesn’t know yesterday or tomorrow, it is here and now.
Since then, I’ve been trying to pay attention to my thoughts, and I realize that a lot of times my thoughts about the future are based on worry – worries about whether I will have what we need tomorrow, next year, or even ten years from now.
Jesus himself had a lot to say on this topic. He said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?…. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-28, 33-34)
He promises that all we have to do is seek God first, and everything else will be taken care of. All we have to do is live in the moment, because God’s got our back. Birds, animals, turtles must live in the moment – they have no choice. So why do we worry so much, obsessing about the “next?”
Jesus himself tells us to pray for our daily bread (Mt 6:11). It’s a day-to-day thing, a minute-to-minute abiding, rather than a massive collecting and storing. In the desert, God gave the Israelities manna bread every morning. Whenever they tried to collect more manna than their share, it would rot. Why should we be any different?
God set it up this way because first and foremost he desires relationship – our love and devotion. He gives us a compass, rather than a map. He knows that if we are given everything we need at the beginning, we tend to rely on our own means, rather than the one who made all means. Over time, I’ve learned to seek God for who He is, not just what He give me. In my life, He went from being a gift-giver to a Father and the lover of my soul.
Maybe you’re like me in that you’ve stood in the middle of public squares, watching everyone around you rushing to get somewhere, hurrying to do something. But what? And more importantly, why? Is the next really that important that it neglects the now?
One thing I’m looking forward in this coming year is to take time to live in the moment, to enjoy the ride. I can’t wait to be on “African-Time” – to take off my watch and not freak out if I am twenty minutes late to where I am supposed to be. It seems like living this way will be so much simpler and stress-free.
When I was growing up, my dad always used to stop me on my way to school and say, “Kelly, what’s the most important thing?” And I would respond, “To have fun.”
The point is not to go and go and go in order to get somewhere. The point is to go and abide in Christ as we are going. To slow down, have fun and enjoy the ride.
Today, will you take time to be present to where you are at every moment? Will you slow down, seeking Him in the moments where you tend to worry, and enjoy the ride? Remember, what’s the most important thing?…